I believe that the depth of our growth directly relates to the frequency of the fruit we bear.
Consider these verses:
1 Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.
If we live a shallow life we shall yield shallow results. I think this is exactly what this verse means:
2 Corinthians 9: 6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.
In addition to daily Bible reading, I have set aside some time to read additional materials that further stimulate my spiritual growth. A very dear friend of mine encouraged me to read the book entitled “They Found the Secret” by V. Raymond Edman. The author of the book compiled mini-biographies of 20, mostly well-known, saints who have lived from the 1600’s through the 1900’s. Some of the lives he writes about include John Bunyan, Oswald Chambers, D.L. Moody, Amy Carmichael, Andrew Murray and J. Hudson Taylor.
The common thread throughout the book is that each of the subjects had a great love for God and were serving Him in the way they were led. In each of their stories, they share an experience of a deeper relationship with God or a greater presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. I don’t know about you but this gives me hope!
It has led me to believe that there is more to learn and a deeper and much more satisfying experience to be found in this divine romance. (Thank you, Phil Wickham!) Can any modern day saint actually relate to Jesus’ disciples? In some ways perhaps, but in many ways I think not, especially after the day of Pentecost. On this planet today I think there are very few if any. But those first-century saints spent time personally with the Messiah, of course, we couldn’t totally relate. Prior to His death and resurrection, however, I think much of what Jesus’ taught went over their heads. For example:
John 17: 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
I don’t think there is any way that the disciples could understand what Jesus is saying here. Do you understand what He means when He says “that they will all be one“? I am learning that this is a very advanced topic and that He has not yet led me to fully understand it. But I strongly believe that He will, as long as I continue to sit at his feet and long for more.
Referring back to the book I mentioned, those characters seemed to understand this verse. I think that only after the day of Pentecost could the disciples understand it. Have you ever had a “pentecostal” experience that took you to a deeper relationship with the risen Savior? This is not to be confused or limited to the Pentecostal denominations, by the way.
You will only grow as deep as those you surround yourself with.
If you are currently limiting your interaction with God and His Word on Sundays, Wednesdays and these messages, you will not grow as deep as those interacting with Him daily, seeking Him on a more frequent basis. If the believers you currently spend time with are not taking His Word seriously or are not wanting a deeper relationship with Him then you will either walk along with them or be so discontent that you will find others to “walk with”. If your pastor does not inspire you to seek a richer spiritual life then God may either be telling you to support him in prayer or to find one who has a closer walk with God.
The bottom line is that you can grow as close to God as much as you desire. It is up to you. The choice is yours. I am convinced that God desires this for your life, wherever you currently are.
James 4: 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you.
Jesus is alive and you can get to know Him and follow Him just as the great saints that have gone before us knew, from Abraham to Billy Graham. Jesus was there for each of them. What they all had in common was “close fellowship with God”, which you can experience today.
If your exposure to God’s teaching is limited only to and filtered by what one leader has to share, then you will only grow as deep as they can lead you. However, if we know Jesus personally and seriously acknowledge Him as The Teacher, the depths to which we can grow are limitless. God’s Word is inexhaustible and it knows no bounds. He will lead you down His perfect and pleasing path.
Consider the disciples of John the Baptist. They had much to learn from John, but he could only teach and show them so much.Whereas Jesus disciples were in the presence of the visible God. They learned far more than what their minds could comprehend at the time. This explains this verse:
Acts 4: 13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.
This concept that I am addressing can be found in nature and I think makes complete sense when viewed in that light.
A couple of these examples are fish only grow as big as their surroundings allow. And a plant will only grow as big as the pot they are planted allows. Think about the trees planted along the riverbed as in Psalm 1 above.
When we are planted in the Branch, the everlasting, living God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen, how deep do you think we can grow?
John 15: 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
How deep do you want to grow?
“Dear Lord I want to know you more. Your Word speaks of peace and joy and I don’t always have that, in fact, there are many days that I don’t. How can I experience peace and joy more consistently? There is much in your Book that I cannot relate to or understand, will you teach me? Thank you for all that you have done for me, for you have blessed me more than I can remember. Your undeserving grace is amazing. Thank you also in advance for what you have in store for me. I look forward to seeing how you are shaping my life to carry out the work you have for me. I pray that you use me in such a way that will give you all the glory and the praise. In Christ’s name, amen.”
Photo by Filip Zrnzević on Unsplash